By Doug Simpson
ALEXANDRIA, La. — A man shot five people in a downtown law office Thursday afternoon and holed up in the building, shooting repeatedly at police with two victims still inside, authorities said.
Two of the victims escaped on their own and police rescued a third, but the gunman repeatedly fought off attempts to reach the others and shot at a remote-controlled police robot sent into the building, police said.
Law enforcement officials take up positions outside a law office where a gunman is holed up after three people inside were reported shot in Alexandria, La., Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Police attempted to enter early Friday by setting off two explosions in the rear of the building.
The shooter was identified by a neighbor and The (Alexandria) Town Talk newspaper as John Ashley, a 63-year-old former city worker.
Gatlin said police were unsure if the two gunshot victims inside the building were alive.
"We won't know their condition until after we get in there," he said.
Alexandria's mayor Jacques Roy said at a news conference late Thursday that the city's downtown was blocked off and inaccessible, cautioning resident not to try to enter. He said the suspect had a single handgun and that there was "no way for us to know how much ammunition."
"We are hopeful there are not worse things to come," Roy said.
Bullet hole surround a door as law enforcement officials continue to work to gather evidence at a law firm after John Ashley, 63, a former city worker, killed two people and then was killed by a SWAT team in Alexandria, La. Friday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Police fired tear gas into the building and tried unsuccessfully to reach the shooter on his cellular telephone and the office phone, Gatlin said. A SWAT team had positioned itself behind an armored car in front of the law firm.
Gatlin would not identify the shooter.
The (Alexandria) Town Talk newspaper reported that one man, bloodied and in boxer shorts, emerged from the building after police arrived. The paper identified him as attorney Camille Giordano and said he was taken to a hospital. A call to a hospital spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
The Rapides Regional Medical Center identified the other victims as Sam Giordano, an attorney, and Andrea Fletcher Price, the law firm's secretary.
Giordano, 49, was in serious condition, and Price, 27, was in fair condition, said Courtney Michiels, a hospital spokeswoman.
The law office, converted from a one-story family home, is located near the Rapides Parish Courthouse. Police cut electricity to the building and closed off much of the downtown area of this central Louisiana city.
Officers from a number of agencies, including state and local law enforcement offices and a SWAT team, were at the scene, along with ambulances.
The shooting rampage astounded people who know Ashley.
"I've never heard him raise his voice. I never heard of him being violent," said Charlie Gilmore, Ashley's neighbor and a local pastor.